3 Misconceptions Which Are Rooted In Fear and Paranoia Than In Reality

Common societal misconceptions about things that really aren’t as bad as they seem.

Photo by Pablo García Saldaña on Unsplash

here’s fear in the air. It’s palpable. The world is and always has been a scary place to be. More so for some than for others. But with all the stress and worry in the world, there are some fears which are based more on hearsay and paranoia rather than on any kind of solid evidence or lived experience. You might be missing out on a lot of good experiences or chances to save the planet just because you believe in a lot of commonly perpetuated myths and misconceptions.

And while people are justifiably afraid and upset over a lot of things, these three needn’t be on their list.

Here’s why:

Fear of used clothing

Fast fashion rode it’s way to the number two spot as the second largest environmental polluter right after the oil industry.

Everyone is well aware about the consequences of fast fashion. Other than being responsible for 4% of greenhouse gases present in the atomosphere, it also violates workers rights, indulges in routine animal cruelty, and destroys fragile ecosystems for the purpose of its existence. And as an increasing number of people drop their fast shopping habits and move towards swapping and thrifting, a whole new consumerist culture is born.

However, one major apprehension people have when it comes to thrifting and using second hand clothes is the hygiene factor. Even amongst those open to the idea, a bit of initial apprehensiveness was noticed, and the fact that one is about to begin wearing the very clothes that someone else might have worn for a lifetime, has sure sprouted lots of doubts and concerns in the minds of prospective thrifters.

On the Instagram page of one of the popular thrift stores in my city, a long time thrifter put the hygiene concern to rest by mentioning the following in the caption of one of their posts:

She explains that when one buys seemingly “brand new” clothes from a retail brand outlet, they are in a way buying second hand clothes only. Since dozens, if not hundreds (in the case of big shopping malls) of people would have tried out those very clothes to see if they fit, chances are you’re ultimately ending up with nothing but a piece of second hand clothing.

Going by this logic, it is safe to assume that second hand clothes don’t pose the level of hygiene risk people imagine them to do, and all it takes is a simple wash (or two) before one starts using them. So you see, there’s absolutely neither rhyme nor reason to be scared of used clothing, and you could be missing out on a great way to save the planet just because of an internally harboured anxiety.

So get out there and start saving the planet, one used garment at a time.

Fear of ugly produce

People will go to great lengths to avoid the most sullen and dull looking produce at the vegetable market. They’ll painstakingly pick up only the good looking, great smelling, and shiniest of fruits, vegetables, and other edible produce that’s out on display. And that one Apple or Banana innocently sitting on the fruit stand with the tiniest speck of discolouration is easily grounds for rejection. Because of this, traditional grocery stores and big hypermarkets have taken it upon themselves to develop standards around what can and cannot be accepted into their inventories, outlining the amount of spottiness allowed on fruit and how misshapen a vegetable can be.

Purely for this reason, a whole lot of perfectly edible food was being rejected and getting sent back to farmers, forcing them to single-handedly bear the burden of wastage, something that should rightfully be shouldered by consumers, producers, distributors, sellers, and everyone else in between.

“Grocery stores want food that looks beautiful and unblemished on the outside, which means that they won’t buy things that don’t live up to these strict standards. This means that fruits and vegetables with odd shapes or almonds with scarring are considered “ugly” and unmarketable, despite tasting just as good as their supermarket counterparts.”

Because of all this wide-scale rejection going on at supermarkets and vegetable markets worldwide, where ugly produce is filtered out either by humans or algorithms, the issue has ballooned into the biggest food wastage crisis that humanity has ever seen. All while millions of people go to sleep hungry and malnourished every single day.

The United Nations has played its part by casting the spotlight on this issue which affects many developing and developed countries across the world:

“Roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted.”

Luckily, the earth is blessed with a whole lot of entrepreneurial problem solvers and quick thinkers who are quick on their feet and high on their wits. This pre-consumption food wastage pandemic has led to the rise of organizations which collects food waste from nearby and sells all the reject, “ugly” produce at discounted rates.

Imperfect Produce happens to be one such company making this possible:

Imperfect Produce is a wonderful startup that rescues perfectly good, healthy and fresh fruits and veggies from being thrown away due to cosmetic reasons. The company buys the malformed items at a discount from local farms and passes it along to their customers through subscription delivery. Currently, delivery is limited to the San Francisco Bay Area, but hopefully an ecological solution like this is bound to grow in abundance.

Just going by the sales and success that some of these organizations have seen since their inception, it is safe to say this particular concern is rooted in irrational fear and paranoia rather than in any rational or logical thought.

How else could they have possibly achieved such high sales and seen so much success over the course of all these years?

There definitely is a market for imperfect foods out there.

Fear of the wild

Being a trekker, I come across tons of folks who are shocked, surprised, and equally impressed that I spend every weekend of mine out in the wild.

More than anything, they are impressed with the bravery, daring, skill, and courage it takes to spend one’s free time out in the jungle every single week. Some of them go on to explain to me how it’s unfathomable for them to even pack up their bags and travel every single weekend, let alone go hiking. According to them, weekends are meant for rest and relaxation, not taking on unwanted stress and tension out in the forest.

Well, I’m here to put all those misconceptions and unwarranted anxities about the wild to rest.

As much as one requires strength, stamina, and a dollop of courage to spend their weekends out in the wild taking in the royal splendour of the natural world, the jungle isn’t as unforgiving and treacherous as one might imagine it to be. Of course, this depends a lot on the type of forest one is getting into and the kind of flora and fauna present there. Hiking out in the woods can feel intimidating, but not all wild regions of the planet are as unfriendly and inhospitable as the Amazon. There are actually quite a lot of wild-but-friendly places on the planet where you can just lace up your trekking shoes and start exploring.

I frequent the Eastern and Western Ghats of India for most of my treks.

Out in these parts, the wild isn’t as unforgiving as the Amazon. We don’t have Anacondas or palm sized Tarantulas roaming about, and unlike the Amazon, not everything is trying to eat you alive. Even with all the Tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries that some of our Indian jungles host, one can go days in the forest without even coming across a single tiger (or any other carnivore for that matter). People who aren’t from the world of trekking are justifiably scared of the wild due to all the paranoia perpetuated by the movies and all the fearmongering about it in the media.

In reality, the wild wants to have way less than what you think it actually wants to do with you.

Snakes and scorpions have frantically scurried off the path on sensing my arrival. Giant Bisons weighing more than a 1000 Kilograms have halted on the trail only to take a cursory glance at the intruder (me), and on sensing that I wasn’t a threat to their existence, quietly went about their own way. Deers, hares, birds, and other smaller marsupials have made a mad dash for the bushes on hearing our footsteps and sensing our movement on the forest floor, indicating that they want to have absolutely nothing to do with us.

So you see, the wild isn’t as interested in you as much as you think it is. You can set aside all you apprehensions about the jungle, happily plot a trail, check out a waterfall, sit at a peak and take in the views, or chill by a natural pool campsite with your buddies in the forest like how I’ve been doing since so many years now.

Happy trekking!

Pro Tip: Do not watch an episode of “I shouldn’t be alive” on Youtube or any other kind of wilderness survival program before leaving, and you’ll be totally fine.

Legal Disclaimer: All the points mentioned above are SUGGESTIVE in nature and not prescriptive. I am neither an expert in these subjects nor am I claiming to be so. Anything that you choose to do following my advice is completely AT YOUR OWN RISK.

I cannot be held responsible for any mishaps or incidents that may or may not occur should you choose to follow the above-mentioned advice. I fully release myself from any kind of legal proceedings that could be carried out against me, or claims that might be made against me by any entity, either human, organization, or otherwise, in pursuit of compensation for accidents or mishaps that may have occurred from following the above advice.

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Caffeinated Thoughts

I am an avid trekker, content writer, photographer and sports enthusiast. I write about trekking, society, overpopulation, lifestyle and veganism in general.